The GDRC Framework on
Gender and Development

Hari Srinivas
Management Tools E-056. June 2015.

he criticality of incorporating gender perspectives in global and community development programmes lie in the fact that decision-making processes always start at home and at the individual level. Power structures not-with-standing, most of the decisions at the household level are taken by women, and directly affect the household to which she belongs. Also, benefits accrued from education and awareness building programmes targeted at women, are ploughed back to the family and household.

But dilemas with respect to gender issues do exist - Do we look for gender specificity or look at human dimensions? Do we work on gender stereotypes, or work on new/emerging roles? Is there a difference/distinction in the way women collect, process and use information and in the way they take decisions? Should gender studies be separate or should be mainstreamed? Should it be 'gender' and environment or 'women' and environment? Should 'Gender' focus on women, on men, or on both?

The three corners of a gender policy relate to (1) creating the right conditions for the delivery of a variety of resources to support empowerment of women, especially where they have a say on the type and mode of delivery of resources of their choice; (2) the provision of cost-effective and complementary services - for example, training and gender sensitivity workshops, covering all issues of economic, social, cultural and other aspects, that leads to empowerment, and (3) mainstreaming of gender issues within larger developmental policies, wich may call for a indepth review of norms and regulations from a gender perspective, identifying empowerment indicators for a programme or policy, etc.

Experience from GDRC research and policy initiatives have identified seven key steps that need to be taken into account in formulating gender programmes, or in making existing policies and programmes more gender sensitive.

     1. Gender Analysis
A thorough gender analysis is a critical starting point for any programme or project that aims to be more gender sensitive. Questions such as the difference in impacts of the policy/programme on women and men; the advantages and disadvantages; roles and responsibilities; who does what, who has what, who needs what; strategies and approaches in closing the gap between what men and women need; etc. need to be asked and analyzed in building a comprehensive picture of the existing situation. This will identify the lacks (that which is not there), gaps (that which is not enough) and mismatches (that which is not right).

See GDRC's special feature on how to do a Gender Analysis

     2. Information and knowledge
Key to developing a comprehensive gender framework is the effective management of information and knowledge. Attention needs to be paid to the collation, packaging and dissemination of information - the right information, at the right time, at the right level, to the right person, so that the intended and right decision can be taken. All three stages of the information management continuum - collation, packaging and dissemination is therefore critical. Issues that need to be kept in mind for collation include - who has the information, what is the quality and quantity of the information available, what format is the information in; for packaging include - how will the information be used, what format should it be in, what decisions and actions are expected from the information provided, who is the user of the information; for dissemination include - what is the best media to use for reaching the intended target group, how can the dissemination facilitate long term capacity building, etc.

See GDRC's three programmes under the Information Sphere - Information Design; Knowledge Management, and ICTs and the Internet. While they are not gender-specific, it does provide ideas and indicators on developing a more gender sensitive information and knowledge management strategy.

     3. Participation and Decision-making
As mentioned in the introduction above, the household is the smallest decision-making unit in a society, where decisions are taken daily - that not only affects the household itself, but cumulatively have a long-term and global impact. As the slogan "Think Global, Act Local" extols, it will be the effective action taken at the local / micro level that will have maximum impact. Effective involvement of all levels of decision-making, particularly at the household level will ensure that decisions taken at the macro level will have its intended micro impacts. The participation of women in all decision-making processes - whether micro or macro - will ensure that broader goals are achieved, and will benefit all sections of the society

See GDRC's programme on Environmental Decision-making. How can decision-making processes be made more gender sensitive?

     4. Legislation, rules and regulations
A comprehensive set of legislation, rules and regulations at the national and local levels - that address short, medium and long term issues are important, but so is its implementation. Both women and men need to be made aware of the protection and provisions made under different legislation, rules and regulations. These cover remedial, preventive, and management strictures that aim to create a gender-balanced society. Effective legislative frameworks in fact lie at the core of good governance.

See GDRC's programme on Urban Governance. The programme has a special feature on Gender and Urban Governance.

     5. Organizational balance
Maintaining a gender balance within any organization - in the public or private sector - is critical to ensure that concerns and needs of both women and men are taken into account in decision-making and implementation. Day-to-day operations of an organization, whether a local government, a business, a company or a school or university, need to benefit all its members. This is done though conscious and stated policies, regulations, and/or management practices.
     6. Capacity building and Training
Despite well intended policies, legislation or practices, achieving a gender balance in meeting needs and concerns of both women and men does not just happen. There is a clear need for better capacity building and training to be undertaken to increase the viability and effectiveness of gender policies and programmes remedy the situation, as well as proactively prevent discrimination and bias from happening. Gender sensitivity has to be built in both women and men, particularly in those who are in positions of decision-making.
     7. Resource Provision
Dismantling decades and even centuries of gender discrimination is not an easy task and requires the elimination of deep-rooted bias with both positive and negative reinforces. Access to markets, information, finance, skills and other resources need to be provided to women in order to be able to play in a level playing field. These can come in the form of specially targeted programmes and provisions, or better and open access to existing ones. This is particularly true in the case of access to financial resources, and access to markets and information for the products they produce or services they provide.

See GDRC's programme on microfinance, particularly the special feature on "Improving Credit Access for Women"

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